Trumbull County commissioners should reopen their recently adopted sick leave policy and make some adjustments.
The policy was crafted earlier this month to address inconsistencies among county departments over employees donating sick time to each other. Allowing employees to donate sick time to needy colleagues is a wonderful, humanitarian benefit and the recent inability of a stricken county worker from receiving help revealed the need for a countywide policy.
However, some provisions in the policy commissioners adopted have flaws. Here are the specific provisions and why they need to be fixed:
The policy does not separate management from employees. The potential for unfair treatment or wrongful dismissal claims is significant every time a manager who has received donated sick days makes a decision about the donor, or an employee who did not donate.
Most government workers may accumulate far more sick days than they are permitted to cash out. The policy allows them to donate the excess sick days. It's not really an act of charity to donate something you can't use, but more importantly this creates an added expense for taxpayers.
The policy allows employees to use donated sick time to care for a sick relative. The Family Medical Leave Act already provides opportunity for workers to care for sick relatives. This is another example of government workers not needing to be sick or injured - a basic requirement in the private sector - to take sick time.
Commissioner Daniel Polivka, who approved the rules, admitted that they do not exist in his family's private business.
The sheriff's and engineer's offices want to opt out of the policy. The sheriff because one already exists there and the engineer because Engineer Randy Smith disagrees with some provisions. Commissioners asked Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine to weigh in on whether they can opt out.
The issue came to light when Nancy Guerini, assistant personnel director with the engineer's office, sought to use sick hours donated by a co-worker after she exhausted all of her vacation, sick and unpaid Family Medical Leave Act time for treatment of cancer. Smith denied the donation because the county had no policy.
Smith should do everything in his power to secure donated sick time for Guerini. He appears, instead, to be an obstructionist. But commissioners should revisit their hastily crafted policy to be more favorable for taxpayers, and more aligned with what's standard in the private sector.